Twins take rubber game from Astros 4-3 behind two big hits from Miranda

HOUSTON – Jose Miranda hit a tying home run and a tiebreaking double Sunday, and in return, the Twins figure to bestow on him an unusual reward: They're taking his job away.

Miranda's big game helped the Twins rally past the Houston Astros for a 4-3 victory at Minute Maid Park, capture their fourth consecutive series triumph and gain an admittedly small amount of satisfaction by beating the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last October.

The Twins hope their third baseman continues to deliver game-altering hits — but it probably won't be Miranda very often. Though the Twins have not made the move official, Royce Lewis is expected to rejoin the team at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, reclaiming the position that Miranda has filled admirably for the past two months.

"Miranda's been terrific. You feel comfortable sticking him in the three-hole to face Hunter Brown," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He doesn't get distracted. He's done a nice job."

Nice enough, in fact, that Miranda appears to be in little danger of being optioned to the minors — his eight RBI over the past week are the most on the Twins, and his .280 batting average this season is the team's highest — but most of his at-bats starting Tuesday will come as a designated hitter, pinch hitter or even first baseman.

"We're going to move him around and find ways to get him into the lineup most days," Baldelli said, without confirming that Lewis' activation is imminent. "When Royce comes back, he's going to play, of course, but he's not going to be out there seven days a week. [He's been out] a very long time. So he may play a couple of games, get a day [off], play two or three games, get a day."

Which sounds fine to Miranda. "I can be whatever they want me to be," the 25-year-old infielder said. "I'm just playing hard every day. I don't think about the other stuff."

BOXSCORE: Twins 4, Houston 3

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Still, Miranda has revived his career after a shoulder injury last year put it in doubt.

On Sunday, with the Twins trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning, Miranda launched a 2-2 fastball from Astros starter Brown high above the Twins bullpen in left-center field, his sixth home run this season.

Brown "got me the first two at-bats [with] pretty good pitches. He was spotting the fastball pretty well," Miranda said. "I just had a two-strike approach, trying to get a good pitch to hit on that heater."

Two innings later, Ryan Jeffers bunted pinch runner Manuel Margot into scoring position in order to give Miranda another big moment.

"I didn't call for that. RJ did that on his own," Baldelli said. "Worked out nicely."

It did, because Miranda lined a slider from former Twins reliever Ryan Pressly over third baseman Alex Bregman's head. The ball ricocheted off the stands and into short left field, allowing Margot to score and Miranda to reach second base with a double.

That, combined with Trevor Larnach's leadoff home run in the first inning and Alex Kirilloff's RBI double in the second, was enough to deliver the victory, particularly when the Twins bullpen kept Houston from scoring over the final 4⅔ innings. Steven Okert pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, and Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran finished with 1-2-3 innings.